Chrome experiment crashes browser tabs

A Google Chrome experiment has resulted in thousands of Chrome users being unable to use their browsers for the past two days, reports ZDNet.

The issue first appeared on Wednesday 13 November and affected users who were using the Chrome browser on Windows Server “terminal server” systems.

These users said the issue resulted in their Chrome tabs going blank, leaving them unable to use the browser to connect to the internet.

Compounding this issue is the fact that in some enterprise environments, employees are unable to switch to a different browser – meaning that they have effectively been rendered useless to their businesses.

Numerous users, including one from US wholesaler Costco, complained that their operations were severely impacted by the bug and that their businesses had lost lots of money as a result.

Source of the bug

The cause of this crash was an experimental feature implemented by Google which suspends tabs when users have a window from another program in front of the browser.

This feature has been tested throughout 2019 in both the Chrome Canary and Beta versions of the browser, but Google recently implemented the feature on the stable version of Chrome to get more feedback.

“The experiment/flag has been in beta for about 5 months,” said David Bienvenu, a Google Chrome engineer.

“It was turned on for stable … via an experiment that was pushed to released Chrome Tuesday morning. Prior to that, it had been on for about 1% of M77 and M78 users for a month with no reports of issues, unfortunately.”

Google’s Chrome team has offered a new Chrome configuration file to all users and has disabled this experiment.

However, if users are still affected by the issue, they can disable the feature using the following addresses:

  • chrome://flags/#web-contents-occlusion
  • chrome://flags/#calculate-native-win-occlusion

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Chrome experiment crashes browser tabs